Street cries of the world

Street cries were once a popular subject of songs and literature in Britain, continental Europe and elsewhere. Each month from 2018 onwards I'll be scanning and transcribing publications to build this collection.


The following shows the original manuscript and a transcription of the satirical poem ‘London Lickpenny’. It was written around 1410 and its author is anonymous, although some scholars have suggested he may have been the poet and monk John Lydgate.

London Lickpenny manuscript page 1

London Lickpenny manuscript page 2

London Lickpenny manuscript page 3

London Lickpenny manuscript page 4

London Lickpenny manuscript page 5

In London there I was bent,
I saw my-selfe, where trouthe shuld be ateynte;
Fast to Westminstar-ward I went
To a man of lawe, to make my complaynt.
I sayd, “For Marys love, that holy seynt,
Have pity on the powre, that would procede.
I would gyve sylvar, but my purs is faynt.”
For lacke of money, I may not spede.
As I thrast thrughe-out the thronge
Amonge them all, my hode was gonn;
Netheles I let not longe,
To kyngs benche tyll I come.
Byfore a juge I kneled anon;
I prayd hym for Gods sake he would take hede.
Full rewfully to hym I gan make my mone;
For lacke of money I may not spede.
Benethe hym sat clerks, a great rowt;
Fast they writen by one assent.
There stode up one, and cryed round about,
“Richard, Robert, and one of Kent!”
I wist not wele what he ment
He cried so thike there in dede;
There were stronge theves shamed and shent,
But they that lacked money mowght not spede.
Unto the Comon Place I yowde thoo
Where sat one with a sylken houde.
I dyd hym reverence as me ought to do;
I tolde hym my case, as well as I coude,
And seyd all my goods, by nowrd and by sowde,
I am defraudyd with great falshed;
He would not geve me a momme of his mouthe.
For lake of money, I may not spede.
Then I went me unto the Rollis
Before the clerks of the Chauncerie.
There were many qui tollis,
But I herd no man speke of me.
Before them I knelyd upon my kne,
Shewyd them myne evidence and they began to reade.
They seyde trewer things might there nevar be,
But for lacke of money I may not spede.
In Westminster Hall I found one
Went in a longe gowne of ray.
I crowched, I kneled before them anon;
For Marys love, of helpe I gan them pray.
As he had be wrothe, he voyded away
Bakward, his hand he gan me byd.
“I wot not what thou menest,” gan he say.
“Ley downe sylvar, or here thow may not spede.”
In all Westminstar Hall I could find nevar a one
That for me would do, thowghe I shuld dye.
Without the dores were Flemings grete woon;
Upon me fast they gan to cry
And sayd, “Mastar, what will ye copen or by—
Fine felt hatts, spectacles for to rede?”
Of this gay gere, a great cause why
For lake of money I might not spede.
Then to Westminster gate I went
When the sone was at highe prime.
Cokes to me, they toke good entent,
Called me nere, for to dyne,
And proferyd me good brede, ale, and wyne.
A fayre clothe they began to sprede,
Rybbes of befe, bothe fat and fine;
But for lacke of money I might not spede.
In to London I gan me hy;
Of all the lond it bearethe the prise.
“Hot pescods!” one gan cry,
“Strabery rype, and chery in the ryse!”
One bad me come nere and by some spice;
Pepar and saffron they gan me bede,
Clove, grayns, and flowre of rise.
For lacke of money I might not spede.
Then into Chepe I gan me drawne,
Where I sawe stond moche people.
One bad me come nere, and by fine cloth of lawne,
Paris thred, coton, and umple.
I seyde there-upon I could no skyle,
I am not wont there-to in dede.
One bad me by an hewre, my hed to hele:
For lake of money I might not spede.
Then went I forth by London Stone
Thrwghe-out all Canywike strete.
Drapers to me they called anon;
Grete chepe of clothe, they gan me hete;
Then come there one, and cried “Hot shepes fete!”
“Risshes faire and grene,” an othar began to grete;
Both melwell and makarell I gan mete,
But for lacke of money I myght not spede.
Then I hied me into Estchepe.
One cried, “Ribes of befe, and many a pie!”
Pewtar potts they clatteryd on a heape.
Ther was harpe, pipe and sawtry.
“Ye by Cokke!” “Nay by Cokke!” some began to cry;
Some sange of Jenken and Julian, to get themselvs mede.
Full fayne I wold hadd of that mynstralsie,
But for lacke of money I cowld not spede.
Into Cornhill anon I yode
Where is moche stolne gere amonge.
I saw wher henge myne owne hode
That I had lost in Westminstar amonge the throng.
Then I beheld it with lokes full longe;
I kenned it as well as I dyd my Crede.
To be myne owne hode agayne, me thought it wrong,
But for lacke of money I might not spede.
Then came the taverner, and toke my by the sleve,
And seyd, “Ser, a pint of wyn would yow assay?”
“Syr,” quod I, “it may not greve;
For a peny may do no more then it may.”
I dranke a pint, and therefore gan pay;
Sore a-hungred away I yede;
For well London Lykke-peny for ones and eye,
For lake of money I may not spede.
Then I hyed me to Byllingesgate,
And cried “Wagge, wagge yow hens!”
I praye a barge man, for Gods sake,
That they would spare me myn expens.
He sayde, “Ryse up, man, and get the hens.
What wenist thow I will do on the my almes-dede?
Here skapethe no man, by-nethe ij. pens!”
For lacke of money I myght not spede.
Then I conveyed me into Kent,
For of the law would I medle no more;
By-caus no man to me would take entent,
I dight me to the plowe, even as I ded before.
Jhesus save London, that in Bethelem was bore,
And every trew man of law, God graunt hym souls med;
And they that be othar, God theyr state restore:
For he that lackethe money, with them he shall not spede!
Explicit London Likke-peny